Pair Praised

Championship Central The American Release

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (UCFKnights.com) – Two members of the UCF women's basketball team earned recognition from the American Athletic Conference for their performance throughout the 2017-18 season. Redshirt senior Zakiya Saunders was named to The American All-Conference Second Team, while freshman Masseny Kaba earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team.
"I'm very proud of the hard work that Zakiya and Masseny put in," UCF head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said.
Saunders made an immediate impact in her single season at UCF, scoring in double figures in 21 of her 24 appearances. She has also had five 20-point performances and a career-best 31-point outing on the season. She has finished with at least two steals and two assists in 18 games.
"I'm very proud of Zakiya coming in after one year and leading our team in scoring and steals per game," Abrahamson-Henderson said. "It's pretty amazing. Her leadership as team captain and all of the qualities that she possesses that don't show up in the stat sheet have been invaluable."
The Augusta, Ga., native finished conference play averaging 15.7 points per game, which tied for 10th among league players. Her 3.1 steals per contest ranked second and she was tied for 11th in rebounding, with 6.5 boards per game.
Kaba became the first Knight to earn The American Freshman of the Week award multiple times, collecting the accolade on three occasions during her rookie campaign. Not scoring her first collegiate point until the third game of the season, Kaba has gone on to score in double figures in 13 games in 2017-18, including nine during league play.
"Masseny really had to fill in for two upperclassmen," Abrahamson-Henderson said. "Early on, she had to step up and played well beyond the maturity level of a freshman as our only true post player. She was such an offensive threat that our opponents were double teaming her almost every game."
The Dorchester, Mass., native is the second-leading rebounder for UCF, averaging 6.3 boards per game. Kaba collected a team-high 87 offensive rebounds this season, and led the league in offensive rebounding with 3.3 per game.
UCF (20-9, 12-4) earned multiple honors from the league for the second straight season after posting its best finish as a member of The American. The Knights posted their first 20-win regular season since 1984-85, and tallied its most wins in league play, finishing with a 12-4 record in conference action.
The third-seeded Knights earned a bye for the second straight year and will play at noon on March 4 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. UCF will face the winner of No. 6 Wichita State and No. 11 Temple in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Aaron's American Athletic Conference Championship. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

2018 American Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Regular Season Awards

Defensive Player of the Year
Kia Nurse, Sr., G, UConn

Most Improved Player of the Year
Tanaya Atkinson, Sr., G, Temple

Sixth Player of the Year
Azurá Stevens, Jr., F, UConn

Ambassador Award
McKenzie Adams, Sr., G, SMU

Newcomer of the Year
Azurá Stevens, Jr., F, UConn

Team Academic Excellence Award

First Team All-Conference
Napheesa Collier, Jr., F, UConn
Kia Nurse, Sr., G, UConn
Katie Lou Samuelson, Jr., G, UConn*
Gabby Williams, Sr., F, UConn
Maria Jespersen, Sr., F, USF
Kitija Laksa, Jr., G, USF
Tanaya Atkinson, Sr., G, Temple

Second Team All-Conference
Zakiya Saunders, Sr., G, UCF
Azurá Stevens, Jr., F, UConn
Jasmyne Harris, So., G, Houston
Kolby Morgan, Sr., G, Tulane
Rangie Bessard, R-Sr., G, Wichita State

Third Team All-Conference
Ana Owens, Sr., G, Cincinnati
Crystal Dangerfield, So., G, UConn
Angela Harris, So., G, Houston
Cheyenne Creighton, Sr., F, Memphis
Brea Elmore, Sr., G, Memphis
McKenzie Adams, Sr., G, SMU

All-Freshman Team
Masseny Kaba, Fr., F, UCF
IImar'I Thomas, Fr., F, Cincinnati*
Lashonda Monk, Fr., G, ECU
Ariana Whitfield, Fr., G, SMU
Mia Davis, Fr., F, Temple*
Emani Mayo, Fr., G, Temple

*denotes unanimous selection